Reporting Research

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Engaging media on tax research in Kenya and Uganda

This case study describes a project carried out by Panos Eastern Africa in 2011 as part of the Relay Programme, to strengthen media capacity and improve reporting on tax and governance in Kenya and Uganda.

The focus of Relay’s most recent project has been to test and refine, over the course of 12 months, a series of approaches designed to strengthen the capacity of the media to report research on tax and governance issues.

A great deal of research is carried out each year on subjects directly relevant to policy and practice in international development. But too much research stays within the confines of the academic community which produced it, and is locked away in reports read only by a handful of specialists.

Despite an increasing demand from citizens for government accountability, much of the media coverage still focuses on corruption scandals, while research exploring the links between tax, public spending and service delivery remains largely unreported.

Relay has identified through baseline studies a gap between the research on tax and governance being produced, and the media coverage of these issues. The project found that building relationships between journalists and researchers, strengthening networks to make use of available evidence and involving the media as stakeholders were central to its success.

The case study provides an overview of the specific challenges in bridging this research communication gap, including:

  • mutual lack of trust and frustration between journalists and researchers
  • poor networking and interaction between key stakeholders,
  • lack of resources, skill and support for journalists and researchers

It describes Relay’s strategies implemented to foster the relationships and encourage knowledge-sharing between researchers, journalists and a wider group of stakeholders. The report highlights results of Relay’s interventions that contributed to improved media coverage. Examples of better relationships between stakeholders, new coalitions and sustainable networks, as well as more research on tax reaching public domain are also illustrated by stories of change as told by project beneficiaries.

The project’s successes and challenges are analysed to help improve the project and provide a set of recommendations for other organisations wanting to draw on Relay’s experience to bring more research into the public domain.

This case study represents work-in-progress. It aims to share findings from a recent project on tax and governance in Kenya and Uganda.  Comments and feedback are encouraged!

A government official collects tax from traders / Paul Weinberg - Panos Pictures

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